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Georgian Folk Tales, by Marjory Wardrop [1894], at


The Hermit Philosopher

THERE was once a wise man who loved solitude, and dwelt far away from other men, meditating on the vanities of the world. He spent nearly all his time in the open air, and he could easily do this, for he lived in a lovely southern land where there is no winter and but little rain. As he wandered once among the verdure of his garden, the sage stopped before an aged walnut tree covered with ripening nuts, and said: 'Why is there such a strange want of symmetry in nature? Here, for instance, is a walnut tree a hundred years old, hiding its top in the clouds, and yet how small is its fruit: itself it grows from year to year, but its fruit is always of the same size. Now, on the beds

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at the foot of the tree there grow great pumpkins and melons on very small creeping plants. It would be more fitting if the pumpkins grew on the walnut trees and the walnuts on the pumpkin beds. Why this want of symmetry in nature?' The sage thought deeply on the subject, and walked in the garden for a long time, till at last he felt sleepy. He lay down under the shady walnut tree, and was soon slumbering peacefully. In a short time, he felt a slight blow on the face, then a second, and then a third. As he opened his eyes, a ripe walnut fell on his nose. The sage leaped to his feet, and said: 'Now I understand the secret of nature. If this tree had borne melons or pumpkins, my head would have been broken. Henceforth let no one presume to find fault with Providence!'

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